Bunny Care Guide: What Foods Do Rabbits Eat?
Rabbit Food: What's Safe and What's Not
Feeding your bunny is a more difficult task than it may seem at first. Popular lore has it that rabbits live off of carrots and lettuce. However, the reality is that feeding them nothing but lettuce and carrots would kill it pretty quickly—and in a rather unpleasant fashion. There is a wide range of foods that you should not feed your rabbit, which also includes cabbage and parsnips.
The point of this article, however, is to discuss what is good for your bunnies to eat. It's actually pretty simple: They should be fed a diet mostly comprised of grass hay (the simple stuff, otherwise often known as Timothy hay). They can also be fed straight grass, but the grass should always be dry.
Three Foods Bunnies Should Eat
- Hay or dried grass
- Pellets (in small amounts)
- Fresh vegetables (in small amounts)
1. Grass and/or Hay
Grass or hay should make up the bulk of your rabbit's diet. One of these foods should always be available for it to munch. If you do feed it grass, make sure it has not come from anywhere that may have been treated with pesticides.
They need to eat almost constantly while they are awake, and the roughage and long fibers in grass and hay are excellent for keeping their digestive systems moving. It is vital that a rabbit's digestive system is always moving, so please never let them go without food, even overnight. Rabbits are crepuscular creatures, which means they tend to be more active around dawn and dusk, but they can also be active at varying times through the day and the night. Therefore they always need to have food on hand, and it should be hay or grass.
Pellets can also make up part of a rabbit's diet, but be sparing in how much you feed. Pellets, especially brands that contain little treats and seeds, are the equivalent of loading your pets up on cheeseburgers and fries. So while your little one will always be happy to eat these foods, they should be occasional treats, never the main meal. Straight pellets are slightly better, but they are still often quite concentrated food sources.
3. Fresh Vegetables
Some fresh vegetables and fruit make great additions to their diet, but you should take a few precautions. Produce should only be fed to rabbits older than six months. After they are six months old, vegetables and fruits can be introduced in small amounts, one at a time. Sudden dietary changes can upset their digestive system, resulting in sickness and diarrhea—pleasant for neither owner nor pet.
- In small amounts, carrots are good for your bunny, as they contain vitamin A.
- Portions of apple will also go down well with most bunnies.
However, you do have to be quite careful and avoid those which can cause gas or bloating. Cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli is not a great idea. The reason you have to be so careful is the fact that a rabbit cannot pass gas or burp. This means that feeding foods which produce gas can result in bloating, pain, and even death.
Vegetables That Are Okay for Bunnies (in Small Amounts)
- Beet tops (not the root of the beet, which is the part humans normally consume)
There is some argument over leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and the like. Some say that they should never be fed to bunnies; others say that the darker leaf vegetables are okay in small amounts. Personally, I find that it isn't worth the risk of accidentally harming the bunny simply in order to give it a wide variety of fresh vegetables. Stick with the safe foods, and you can be sure that your bunny will be okay. They will not suffer if they don't become vegetable connoisseurs—after all, the principle food of rabbits in the wild is simply various kinds of grass. There aren't too many vegetable gardens in the wild.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.